Wresting for Light: A Note on Police Violence by Jermaine Woodard Jr.

This is the kind of trauma that is incurable.

It gets easier to manage . . . for some. You heal some; you therapize some; you pray some; you live for some really beautiful, joyous and life-changingly happy moments, but that permanent trigger is there—for a lifetime. The inhumanity of some cannot and will not be forgotten. Justice will be had one way or the other.

My caucasian/white/privileged allies: I cannot instruct you on “what to do,” but I imploringly encourage you to look deep, deep within your internal conscious self and go beyond what is “normal” to genuinely empathize and sympathize. Challenge yourself to go as deep, figuratively speaking, in your psyche as the Great Lakes—hell, even the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. Feel that suffocating, encapsulating, painful feeling of you not being able to breathe and wanting air so desperately.

Now, you proceed with life because you have the luxury of this being an imaginative exercise . . . but stay in that space for another second, and now see one of the faces of your black, brown, yellow brethren and sistren wresting for light and air in that same, vast body of water—this is every single day life for us, even when we aren’t consciously thinking about it. This particular, reoccurring massacre called police brutality is a real-life nightmare.

I encourage you reading this, as long as you exist with an inordinate amount of privilege, to continue speaking out when you feel inspired or led to, having healthy conversations about race and racial inequalities when applicable, standing with us when it’s important and behind closed doors, sharing your light and love in any capacity, and checking your tongue, biases, and inappropriate, disgusting, and disgraceful jokes and humor at the door and leaving them on the mat or ground to be stepped on. Your insensitivities are no longer welcomed into many houses. Mine included.

I have light within brighter than galaxies. In some situations, it’s challenging trying to access even a margin of it. . . . But mark my words, this fight is not over.

Jermaine Woodard Jr.,​​ a native of Portsmouth, Virginia, devotes himself to an eclectic professional singing career in New England, primarily Hartford County. Choral affiliates include Voce, Inc.​, ​CONCORA, Cathedral of Saint Joseph’s ​​Schola Cantorum (Hartford, CT), Composer’s Choir (New Haven, CT), ​Consonare CT’s Voices of Concinnity (Mansfield, CT), and Vox Futura (Boston, MA). ​He is currently baritone section leader​/soloist​ at Asylum Hill Congregational Church​ ​and ​the Hartford Chorale (and board member). Recent career highlights include roles in Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Bach’s Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244). Woodard also cantors frequently at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center (West Hartford, CT) and Sacred Heart Parish ​of Bloomfield, CT. 

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